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State House Sound Bites Podcast


WITF’s Pennsylvania Politics Podcast

WITF’s Pennsylvania Politics Podcast


United States


WITF’s Pennsylvania Politics Podcast








Episode 57: Food and water

With the legislature out of session for (probably) the entire summer, it’s time to turn our attention to some other reporting projects outside the daily grind of Harrisburg. Paula Knudsen of The Caucus and Sam Janesch of L&P and The Caucus have spent the last couple weeks reporting on a ubiquitous, little-discussed feature of Capitol … Continue reading "Episode 57: Food and water"


Episode 56: The art of the “get out of town” budget

It’s a brave new world for the commonwealth’s budget process—at least compared to the last decade or so. For the first time in many years, lawmakers are poised to pass a budget ahead of the June 30th deadline, and Wolf is likely to sign it after letting the previous three plans pass without a signature. … Continue reading "Episode 56: The art of the “get out of town” budget"


Episode 55: Amendments for all

This week had everything: major bills moving, last-minute amendments, a little back-room plotting, and a lot of yelling on the Senate floor. A bill to create a citizen’s commission on redistricting has passed the Senate and is now awaiting House action—but it looks very different than it did just a few weeks ago. Now, a … Continue reading "Episode 55: Amendments for all"


Episode 53: Election retrospective, medical marijuana transparency

This week, Pennsylvania had an election. If you’re a person who noticed this happened, you may have also noticed that some of the outcomes were expected, others were not, and various partisans and pundits still seem pretty divided about whether Democrats can expect a proverbial “blue wave” come November. Lots to take in! So, Steve … Continue reading "Episode 53: Election retrospective, medical marijuana transparency"


Episode 52: Primary primer

Pennsylvania’s primary elections are this coming Tuesday, and there’s a lot to pay attention to. Three GOP candidates for governor are facing off to see who will take on Tom Wolf in November. York County Senator Scott Wagner, who also owns a trash-hauling company, is seen as an apparent frontrunner after clinching the important state … Continue reading "Episode 52: Primary primer"


Episode 51: Meek Mill and more

Marc Levy of the Associated Press and Liz Navratil of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette join us for a roundup of a whole bunch of initiatives kicking around the Capitol That includes a move to expand background checks for gun purchases, and a hearing on creating an independent citizens’ commission for redistricting. Plus, we’ll recap a recent debate between the … Continue reading "Episode 51: Meek Mill and more"


Episode 50: Philly soda tax / Capitol roundup

When Philadelphia wanted to combat obesity and reduce its impact on health care early last year, it turned to a controversial measure: the soda tax. Since then, the 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax has inspired equally passionate support and opposition. Detractors of additional food, beverage and container taxes say they result in job loss, harm communities … Continue reading "Episode 50: Philly soda tax / Capitol roundup"


Episode 49: TV ad-pocalypse

On this week’s podcast, we catch up on a slew of nasty ads that have been circulating on TV—a sign the GOP gubernatorial primary is heating up. Paul Mango and Scott Wagner are taking turns calling each other liberal and (in Mango’s case) “violent,” a slumlord,” and a “deadbeat dad.” Paula Knudsen and Brad Bumsted … Continue reading "Episode 49: TV ad-pocalypse"


Episode 48: A perfect storm for change

Pennsylvania’s not a state that changes course easily. But over the past few months of redistricting chaos, not to mention wider, national unrest over guns and sexual assault, the commonwealth has seemed on the brink of some major shifts. That’s what John Baer is hypothesizing, anyway. The longtime columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and … Continue reading "Episode 48: A perfect storm for change"


Episode 47: Dang property taxes!

The Morning Call’s Steve Esack recently co-authored a series investigating Pennsylvania’s little-discussed Clean and Green program, which essentially shifts property tax burdens off large landowners and onto regular homeowners—particularly in rural areas. (You should read it). We’ll discuss why the heck this policy exists, and how the billions and billions of dollars it functionally … Continue reading "Episode 47: Dang property taxes!"


Episode 46: Small races writ large

Pennsylvania had an election this week. Though it was only a special election to replace a resigned congressman in a single district, it received wall-to-wall national coverage. Like several other small or special contests this year and last, PA18 is seen as a signifier of how well democrats will do in this year’s midterms. Also, … Continue reading "Episode 46: Small races writ large"


Episode 45: Guns, guns, guns

In the wake of the Florida shooting that killed 17 people, lawmakers around the country have been grappling with how—or if—to reform gun laws. Pennsylvania’s own US Senator Pat Toomey found himself in the thick of the conversation this week as he proposed moderate gun reforms to President Donald Trump, and was then immediately undercut … Continue reading "Episode 45: Guns, guns, guns"


Episode 44: Let’s sue the court

In a little bit of a departure, this show was recorded live as an episode of Smart Talk, WITF’s morning radio show, on Thursday, February 23. We’re cross-posting because it covers all the important redistricting news we would have discussed on the podcast anyway, and who wants to be redundant? WITF’s Scott LaMar, Emily Previti, … Continue reading "Episode 44: Let’s sue the court"


Episode 43: What does ‘fair’ even mean?

It’s been almost a month since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared the commonwealth’s 2011 congressional map an unconstitutional Republican gerrymander and ordered lawmakers to redraw it in time for the 2018 election. And as the February 19 deadline approaches for the justices to select a replacement, the contentious saga might be coming to an end. … Continue reading "Episode 43: What does ‘fair’ even mean?"


Episode 42: Making it up as they go along

By the time you listen to this podcast, there’s a good chance that things will look a bit different. All week, we’ve been waiting to see what the state legislature will do to respond to the state Supreme Court’s declaration that Pennsylvania’s congressional maps are unconstitutional, and justices’ subsequent order for lawmakers to redraw them … Continue reading "Episode 42: Making it up as they go along"


Episode 41: More fights about redistricting

Yes, this is the third podcast in a row that has focused on the fallout from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declaring the state’s congressional maps unconstitutional. And yes, we still have a lot more to say about it. This week saw more volleys back and forth between legislative republicans and the court, and perhaps most … Continue reading "Episode 41: More fights about redistricting"


Episode 40: Unconstitutional maps, uncertain future

Today’s podcast was recorded live as an episode of Smart Talk, WITF’s morning show. That means it’s twice as long, and features listener calls and emails. It features Keystone Crossroads’ Emily Previti and Marc Levy of the Associated Press, who help us break down the biggest issue in Pennsylvania (and one of the biggest issues … Continue reading "Episode 40: Unconstitutional maps, uncertain future"


Episode 39: Redistricting, races, and the return of the legislature

Lawmakers have been on vacation from Harrisburg for over a month, but next week they’ll return to start off their 2018 session. Jason Gottesman of the PLS Reporter and City and State PA joins us to run down a list of their top priorities—from overhauling the tax code to shrinking the state House. But before … Continue reading "Episode 39: Redistricting, races, and the return of the legislature"


Episode 38: Farm Show fever

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is in full swing, and we had planned to do a very Farm Show-centric episode. But as someone probably once said, state politics operates on its own mystical schedule, so lots of other unexpected stuff happened this week as well. Therefore, Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer columnist John Baer and Paula … Continue reading "Episode 38: Farm Show fever"


Episode 37: Frozen pipe(line construction)

This week, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection made an unexpected decision to halt construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline, a massive $2.5 billion Sunoco project that’s intended to eventually link the Marcellus Shale gas formation in Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania to an export terminal near Philadelphia—a distance of 350 miles. Over the course … Continue reading "Episode 37: Frozen pipe(line construction)"